Donegal Under-21s served notice of their power and precision as they marched into the Ulster final.
Donegal 3-17 Cavan 0-13
Cavan were just no match for Declan Bonner’s sharp and clinical charges, who missed just two shots over the hour, and the second half goals by Cian Mulligan, Michael Carroll and Caolan McGonagle eased the Tir Chonaill men into Monday’s final.
Just 45 seconds after the break, Mulligan drilled emphatically past Liam Brady.
Captain Eoghan Ban Gallagher laid on the final pass after Jamie Brennan and Michael Carroll did the spadework.
Mulligan – who had turned in a fine performance for the Donegal seniors in Castlebar on Sunday – still had work to do, but his finish to the far corner was excellent.
In the 45th minute, Carroll palmed home from the chalk of the goal-line after Lorcan Connor unselfishly centred.
A minute from the end, substitute McGonagle had the easy task of finishing after another deadly Donegal break in numbers.
Connor’s display was one of the evening’s highlights as the Downings forward kicked six points, including five fine frees.
Stephen McBrearty looked almost unplayable at times and scored four points, although the sight of the Kilcar man hopping off the field and having an icepack on his foot was a worry.
After coming through the ringer against Tyrone in a quarter-final that was only decided after a replay, Donegal turned in a fine exhibition of attacking play here.
With lightening pace and sublime accuracy, Donegal impressed here and dominated on their way to a 13-point win that was fully merited.
That margin would have been greater save for the close-range frees given up by Donegal in the second half.
Donegal were without Kieran Gillespie after the Gaoth Dobhair man suffered a re-occurrence of a hamstring injury in the warm-up before the Allianz League game against Mayo in Castlebar on Sunday.
The first glances were rather deceptive as Cavan led 0-3 to 0-2 in a lively opening five minutes.
In the busy beginning, the Donegal netminder Danny Rodgers was called into action to deny the rampaging Conor Bradley, who cut through the middle.
A pair of Caoimhin O’Reilly frees helped to give Cavan the advantage, but Langan and McBrearty, with a magnificent effort from out on the left, kick-started Donegal.
Between then and the 22nd minute, Donegal delivered a first-class exhibition of shooting, scoring points from all angles and distances.
Their conversion rate in the first period was perfection: 13 shots and 13 scores.
Connor was on fire with five points in the first half, four of them frees as he assumed responsibility for some of the free-taking.
McBrearty was also in the mood here and the Kilcar ace swung over a trio of gorgeous points in the first half-hour while Carroll ended the half with a pair of points that put Donegal 0-13 to 0-6 ahead.
Even with that lead, Donegal perhaps will have felt their advantage could have been greater at that point.
The game had originally been pencilled in for last Wednesday, but was shelved following an eleventh-hour pitch inspection.
In the first minute of part two, Mulligan was wheeling away after netting Donegal’s first goal and the plans could already be made for an Ulster final.
Donegal: Danny Rodgers; Brendan McCole, Stephen McMenamin, Conor Morrison; Cian Mulligan (1-1), Dáire Ó Baoill, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Jason McGee, Tony McClenaghan; Christy Fildara, Stephen McBrearty (0-4), Michael Carroll (1-2); Michael Langan (0-3, 1f), Lorcan Connor (0-6, 5f), Jamie Brennan. Subs: Conor Doherty for Fildara (half-time), Niall O’Donnell (0-1, 1f) for McBrearty (42), Caolan McGonagle (1-0) for Carroll (black card, 46), Ethan O’Donnell for Langan (48), Rory Carr for Connor (52), Niall Friel for McClenaghan (57).
Cavan: Liam Brady; Michael Smart, Donal Monahan, Luke Fortune; Sean O’Connor (0-1), Eoin Sommerville, Patrick O’Reilly; Thomas Galligan, Cormac Daly; Pierce Smith, Conor Bradley (0-1), Matthew McKenna; Caoimhin O’Reilly (0-4, 4f), Bryan Magee, Ryan Connolly (0-6, 4f). Subs: Conor Smith for McKenna (37), Brendan Argue for P.O’Reilly, David Brady (0-1) for P.Smith (42), Conor Reilly for Daly (46), Thomas Edward Donohue for Magee (50), Rhys Clarke for Bradley (55).
Referee: Sean Laverty (Antrim)Tags: